American Innovation: Special Collections launches Fall exhibit

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Poster advertising the American Innovation Fall Exhibit

For over two centuries, the United States has been a wellspring of scientific and technological innovation. The new Special Collections exhibit American Innovation: A Survey of Adaptive Ingenuity in the United States draws from materials in Lehigh Libraries’ collections to showcase individuals who have contributed to the United State’s success through their passion to discover, innovate, and revolutionize. Come and follow the footsteps of these great figures and learn about the advances in technology, efficiency, and business they engineered. The exhibit is on display in the Linderman Café Gallery and Reading Room through December 19, 2014.

Represented are:
- Individuals who have fostered communication, such as Samuel Morse
- Those who have facilitated transportation, such as Robert Fulton, Henry Ford, and the Wright Brothers
- Entrepreneurs, such as Samuel Colt, and Cyrus McCormick
- Technological genius, such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

Whether the innovations are familiar to us or lesser known, they are examples of American ingenuity. Sir Harold Evans, historian and journalist, summed it up best in his book They Made America (New York: Little, Brown, 2004), where he said, “Innovation...has turned out to be a distinguishing characteristic of the United States. It is not simply invention; it is inventiveness put to use.”

This exhibit features contributions by Eleanor Nothelfer, ’80, and Zion Um, ’15. Eleanor, who has volunteered in Special Collections since her retirement from the Fritz Engineering Laboratory library, conducted extensive research and wrote many of the biographies of the visionaries represented in this exhibit. Zion, who joined Special Collections her freshman year as a student assistant, has continued to make significant contributions to the exhibit program through her artistic talent. Not only did she design the exhibit poster, but she drew the portraits of each of the figures represented on the exhibit poster and in the Café Gallery. Based on contemporary photographs and drawings of this scientist, entrepreneurs, and engineers, Zion’s representations capture each of them in their prime.